HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are just four weeks until the primary election and Hawaii News Now and the Honolulu Star Advertiser teamed up to bring you the Hawaii Poll. The focus now is on the Democratic race for governor and lieutenant governor. Most of the Democratic candidates were all in one place Sunday at Washington Middle School for Senator Dan Inouye's community event, where we caught up with them about the poll results.
If elections were decided by saimin eating contests or by who did the bon dance, campaigning would probably be a lot easier. And while those events show a candidate's personality, polls show a clearer picture of the actual standings in the race.
The Hawaii Poll asked 425 people their Democratic choice for governor. The poll showed 49% picked Neil Abercrombie while 44% chose Mufi Hannemann. A relatively small percentage only 8% didn't know or refused to answer.
So how does Abercrombie plan to maintain the lead with a month to go?
"I don't think it's a question of maintaining anything I think it's a question of the momentum not only continuing but rising," said Abercrombie. "I think that it says all that we have been trying to accomplish at the grass roots level for some months now this is a bottom up campaign, it's not a command and control campaign from the top."
"We feel very good where we're at," said Hannemann.
So is Hannemann worried?
"Well we're worried like everything else but we're confident. This is not an unusual situation with my campaigns in the past and given the fact that we're running against a lot of people that are siding with Neil and that's fine," responded Hannemann.
When people were asked their opinion about the candidates all three scored about the same in the favorable versus unfavorable categories with Republican Duke Aiona coming out the best and while they all have their strengths Abercrombie is doing very well with women, union members and independents.
"It's not one particular group, it's not a bunch of power brokers, it's everyday people who are working very hard and want a future for themselves. They don't want to see us importing real estate speculators and exporting our kids," said Abercrombie.
Hannemann says his own polling data placed him much closer to Abercrombie.
"We believe we're at least two points behind at this point and I love being behind because that will energize our voters to get out there and keep in mind too I haven't started campaigning full time since July 20th, so it's only been a month and we've made up a lot of ground," said Hannemann.
And there are still four weeks left to get out the vote via bon dance or any other means.
The Hawaii Poll also asked voters about their choice for lieutenant governor and all the candidates have work to do with name recognition.
Brian Schatz is in the lead with 27 percent. Norman Sakamoto is second with 21 percent. Then there is Bobby Bunda at 11 percent followed closely by Gary Hooser at 10 percent. Lyla Berg and Jon Riki Karamatsu were next at seven and two percent respectively. None of them are giving up and all plan to maximize each day before the September 18 primary.
"Well we're pleased and we think it shows that people are agreeing that it's time to focus on economic opportunity for everybody, improving public education and finally bringing accountable government," said Brian Schatz.
"We're finding that earlier on we were a little further behind the leader. We're catching up, we just have to keep working hard. We have to get our message out because people value experience," said Norman Sakamoto.
"It's anybody's race, there are seven of us in the race and it will split probably evenly and it just depends on the neighbor islands," said Bobby Bunda.
"I obviously would have liked to have done better but the poll was done before the Sierra Club chose us over Brian Schatz and before the Hawaii State Teachers chose us over Norman Sakamoto," said Gary Hooser.
"If you look at numbers and numbers mean a lot to people, an opportunity for my supporters certainly to recognize that they have to go to the polls," said Lyla Berg.
"I'll continue my grassroots and now that my state wide media campaign is starting I'm hoping we can close in some of those percentages," said Jon Riki Karamatsu.
As for favorable versus unfavorable ratings Schatz, Sakamoto and Bunda scored the best but the majority of people still don't know who the candidates are saying they've 'never heard of' or 'don't know enough about' them in their responses.
The Hawaii Poll continues Tuesday. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser will tell you what people think about the character and leadership qualities of the gubernatorial candidates. Tuesday evening on Hawaii News Now we'll be the first to bring you the results on the race for Honolulu mayor.